My cell phone is turned off. This is probably not the most normal introduction for a first ever blog post, so I will go ahead and tell you also that my name in Kjersten Priddy, I am an MDiv Middler, and I am currently in Iceland for J-Term. And my cell phone is turned off.
Seriously turned off. Not like on vibrate or silent in my bag or off for a flight to be turned on as soon as the flight attendants give the comforting “it is now safe to use portable communication devices” announcement, but completely and totally off. For the next two weeks. I am supposed to be reflecting on Iceland’s culture and stark beauty and experiencing a “profound experience of darkness,” or so said the course description. Above all, I am supposed to be saving myself the outlandish out-of-country charges I would face for using my cell phone in Iceland. All these things I’m sure are happening. But what I find myself most noticing the most is that my cell phone is turned off.
It is not like I am without communication. The house I am staying at in fact is some sort of a model technology house and literally has wireless internet streaming from the outlets in the wall, so my connection to the internet is actually better and faster than my $10 ATT wireless in Chicago. But still, I find myself feeling a little bit lost without my cell phone. Being cut off from it, I’m realizing my phone has become a bit of a security blanket. I can think of rough times in my life where I have sat on the couch with my cell phone in my hand looking at all the people I could call if whatever it was got bad enough. Oftentimes knowing that in my hand was a list of people I could call at any time was enough to not need to call anyone. Just that realization that people who loved me were out there was enough.
So this trip becomes, for me, about more than just experiencing a new culture in this land of beauty and harsh extremes. Being on this beautiful island in the middle of the north Atlantic, with great internet and no cell phone is also about discovering new ways of connectedness, new ways of remembering my community and my support system. There will be times in ministry where, for one reason or another, there will be no one I can call. There will be things I will have to deal with in life that will be difficult and painful and I will feel alone and that phone will have to sit unopened in my lap. And in those times, maybe I will remember Iceland. I will remember the experience of finding new community in the place where I am. Of learning to eat cheese on cookies, playing Bananagrams with someone who beat me despite playing in his second language and ending up with all the Q’s and X’s, and waking up to a five-alarm sunrise at 10 am. But I will also remember the people across the ocean who remind me that my home and my welcome are still in that place. I will be glad to remember that the world is small. And I will be grateful for a God whose arms can reach across as vast a space as the ocean and across as small a space as a cell phone.